Knowledge Creep

Have you ever been in a grocery store or restaurant and seen something new, and without really knowing anything about it beforehand, you somehow knew what it was? Or maybe when they talk about data in the news, you can follow the conversation without ever really doing research on the topic of privacy?

We’re always ingesting information; that you cannot deny. However, more and more it seems that the sophistication and niche levels of knowledge that everyone is exposed to continues to climb. The more pop-culture and news align on topics and speak to common themes, the more educated-ish people become.

Major topics such as the impeachment, privacy, climate change, sustainability, and transparency have had a trickle-down effect.  They aren’t just the news of those tuning into major news networks or reading the papers; now, they’re also the topics of social media, celebrity discussions, and pop culture.

While this has, in a sense, always happened, the rate and levels at which it is happening continue to increase, and more importantly, continue to hit younger audiences. Generation Z, for example, have grown up with the internet practically designed around them, from social media and streaming platforms to online communities and knowledge outlets. This has given them a unique position—they’ve been involved in the “big kid table” discussions from the beginning, because those discussions have all taken place online.

This has given Generation Z a unique opportunity to not only observe what is happening in the world around them (and the world that they will someday inherit) but also the ability to anonymously participate online and off—without letting their age be an influence, in some cases. Generation Z has had the opportunity to champion causes at young ages because they’ve grown up connected and they’ve grown up with the issues ever-present in their digital backyards.

While older generations are being made aware of topics and scenarios through the concept of knowledge creep, Generation Z has seen it as a way to level the playing field among generational knowledge—and in their eyes, get ahead.

As we enter an election year, with the oldest members of Generation Z now voting, it is going to be interesting to see what kind of political participation they have compared to the lackluster Millennial track record of voting. On top of that, Generation Z may be more issue-focused as a whole, having grown up online as crusade after crusade has emerged surrounding niche topics. This means that we may see Generation Z voting on and for specific issues rather than political parties as a whole.

Taking the participation-ready attitude of Generation Z into account, on top of other major issues hitting during an election year (such as privacy, mental health, and gender equality), it’s going to be interesting to see where politicians take stands and draw lines. Do they fully immerse themselves on an issues level, aiming for the Gen Z vote—or do they stay at the surface level, focusing on bigger picture topics?

November is coming, and every day all generations are becoming more privy to major battleground topics. Not necessarily because they choose to—but because everyone, across all platforms, is talking about it. While some are digging deeper, others are only learning what they hear in their own media circles—be it wrong or right. And that knowledge, misinformation, or otherwise topline information, then becomes their talking points to share with someone else.

One way or another the conversation is changing. The next few months will tell an interesting story. Let that sink in for a moment.